The cost of novice homesteading mistakes

26 thoughts on “The cost of novice homesteading mistakes”

  1. I so enjoyed reading your post!
    You are not afraid to admit sone errors in judgement, learn from them, and saddle up again.
    Yet knowing there’s other ways, even considered the “right way” by others. Without your your type of thinking, we’d all think the world was still flat. (It’s not, rite?)
    You two have you own gig going, and you’re gonna make it work for
    YOU!
    One thing I noticed you said, was
    “Failing to adequately prepare for nature “. You may just need to let that one go… Because this Mother Nature gal, she’s never going to let you prepare for much. However,she’s of the same notion as the both of you… a lovely, fly by the seat of her pants, non-conformist. And in this day and age as far as weather, global warming, and just plain “nobody has a clue”. You are exactly on the right train of thought. In that there probably isn’t one.
    In my eyes, you’re both one step further ahead than you even know. Ain’t it grand?
    Your writing, and take on things is wildly refreshing to me.

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    1. Thanks Kate, and you’re right. We can never get a firm hold on Mother Nature. But we can also keep a check on our confidence so it doesn’t overwhelm common sense 😉

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  2. This is exactly how we homestead – by the 4-H motto of learn by doing.
    The electric bill for both our adult ducks, ducklings, and chicks was/is outrageous. We overwinter our female ducks and goose in Alaska, but we have a well-insulated coop. The first year the coop was with heat lamps and a husband that worried that they were going to freeze to death in their down jackets. The 2nd winter, I moved to chicken heating pads instead of heat lamps and slowly worked on my husband that they were fine. Two heat pads worked extremely well – they were inexpensive and used a lot less electricity. May work for your brooder too instead of the electric heater though I’m guessing you’ll still need your heat lamps. We have our chicks in the heated garage until they get big enough, so two heat lamps work well for them. And if it gets to -20 or colder, we tend to turn on the heat lamp in the coop for a bit.
    I like your chicken tractor! Glad it survived as well as everything else! Impressed that wind could move that!

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    1. It’s encouraging that we’re not the only ones who take the “just wing it” approach to this lifestyle 🙂 What’s a chicken heating pad? Is it the same as a person heating pad? And how do you keep it from getting covered in poop? I could imagine maybe putting the heating pads on the floor, then covering with a couple of layers of newspaper and some shavings…

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  3. Thanks for sharing! Though we’re not fly by the seat of our pants homesteaders, we’re not research until we drop either. For the most part, we pick a plan, and try to stick with it, but always have a plan B just in case.

    The biggest decision that we’ve made is to not go into debt for projects. Yes, it means being patient and waiting until money is saved before going to work on something, but at least it alleviates some stress. So… this year instead of the shed, greenhouse, playhouse and workshop… I get a container garden, because that’s what we have saved up for. Lol.

    – Christine

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    1. I agree, we also make improvements as we can afford them and don’t put more on the credit card than we can pay off each month. There are so many ways the farm could quickly drain us. It’s important to remember that it’s a marathon, not a 5k. That barn roof will (probably) still be there next year, ready to be replaced then.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your mistakes! This is so helpful 🙂 While my parents research and plan everything to the point it’s almost neurotic, I tend to be a bit more impulsive and can definitely relate to you! They tear their hair out over the money I waste on silly mistakes.

    Also that’s sooooo incredibly lucky about the chicken coop haha!

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  5. Mistakes mean we are learning. I love the honest post. No matter how much research you do, you will still have trials. We researched before, and just dont go into debt with projects. I think you could homestead for 10 years and still learn something new every day, and there is beauty in that. If we all knew everything, this world would be boring!

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  6. My husband and I are the same way! Sink or swim were ready to jump in with both feet with not an ounce of experience. Just a deep desire to grow and raise a homestead. I am so happy to hear this story didn’t have a tragic ending. So many things to take from this as we raise our first set of chicks.

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  7. This sounds so much like me and my husband. Sink or swim we are ready to jump in with both feet with not an ounce of experience. So happy to hear this story didn’t have a tragic ending. So much to take away from this as we raise our first set of chicks.

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  8. I totally hear you… It’s a funny thing, trying to decide when to jump in to a new project… If you wait until you’re totally ready and feel comfortable, you might never do it. If you dive into too much, too quickly you can end up with a mess. I’m finding that all you can do is try to learn what you can, feel it out, and do your best. You’ll learn from the mistakes. I also see that someone has already told you not to feel too bad about not anticipating Ma Nature. Ma Nature does what she wants… I found that out during the polar vortex, when our below-ground pump-house froze up. So glad we had a spring that had kept running enough not to freeze. I could draw water from for the animals from it, but that was much more luck than sense…

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  9. I love this! We too tend to jump into things without too much thought and learn as we go. I’m sorry to hear about your greenhouse, someday I really really want one. It is crazy windy here too, that much we know after 4 years on the farm. We found because we live in Canada we have to wait until May to get our chickies, first year we did them in april and just like you with 2 heat lamps in the brooder it was too cold and they had to live in my kitchen for a while. We have slowly been learning lots about goats mostly through our goats lol. every year I learn something new about the garden too. Its a wonderful adventure this homesteading even if it is hard sometimes!

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  10. Loved reading this! I’m very much a jump in and deal with the consequences later type of person. Luckily my girlfriend, Ginny, is a very grounded and realistic person. We’ve decided together that before we even start looking at potential properties, we’re going to spend the next ten years learning the skills and planning out our farm. We’re going to do farm management courses, beekeeping courses, horse riding coach qualifications and together we’ve read at least a dozen books. By the time we actually get onto our farm we hope to have read a few dozen each.
    But the reality is – anytime you start something new, you are going to make mistakes. We know that we are going to make mistakes. We’re going to suffer losses like you have and we’re going to learn more as we go. No amount of reading could better prepare us than the hands on experience your getting. All we can hope to do is minimise the cost of mistakes so we can keep our farm running.
    Love your blog! Definitely subscribing! 🙂

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    1. Oh my, that research and preparation will serve you well, it really will. And a farm management course would be gold! I wonder if I can find one in my area…

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